Tag Archives: The Plough

The Long Journey Home – Part 14

The Long Journey Home – Part 14

Monday 18 June 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Narrowboat Artwork image
Narrowboat Artwork

Onto The Thames – Nearly

We awoke to the day we would enter onto The Thames. The sun was out, a boat had been past and we weren’t adrift – a good start to the day.

Tea, Best Drink of the Day

Tea clarified the task we had to undertake and as we thought more about it, we decided we needed more information (and probably tea). Rather than just setting off and hoping, we decided we would spend the day in Oxford. We wanted to walk to Isis Lock and see the entrance to The Thames before attempting it in a boat. The Thames river is under the auspices of the Environment Agency, not the Canal and River Trust and as such, required a separate licence to travel on. Luckily, a short pass can be purchased from the first (or subsequent) lock on The Thames proper (not Isis), for a small fee.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Artwork

The walk from our mooring, along the towpath took us from Wolvercote (The Wolvercote Tongue), through Woodcock (The Last Bus to Woodcock) and onto Jericho (The Walls of Jericho) and then on to the Bodleian Libray and Brasenose Lane where further episodes of Inspector Morse were represented. We were walking through the history of Colin Dexter’s creations, as represented by the TV Series.

Isis oh Isis

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Isis Lock Sign image

The Isis Lock was a less daunting prospect than we had thought it to be, the water levels were Green and as no rain was forecast, all looked well for the next day. The turn at Isis Lock is a sharp one with two options to travel on The Thames and one blocked off with buoys as non-navigable. There are complex instructions on mooring to a pontoon, pushing the back of the boat out, ‘walking’ it along the pontoon to turn it, then off. As the water looked today, I would have been tempted to power straight around but would check before we went.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Bridge 243 Isis Lock image

Walking over the lock bridge: a black and white iron one similar to the one at Braunston, we made friends with a beautiful little cat that would have made a great boat cat. It tip toed along the bridge hand rail, deftly jumping off and back up, craving affection. It lost interest after a while.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - River Thames Sign image

With the journey recce’d, we decided to walk into the centre of Oxford. I knew there was a newly opened exhibition of Tolkien’s work as a world builder and as we were here, was hoping to see it.

Worldbuilder

After coffee to kickstart the morning (the walk had been a sizeable one), we went in search of the Bodleian Library. Across the road from it, at The Weston Library we found the exhibition and the excellent thing was, it was free admission! We had to obtain tickets but admission was immediate.

It was an excellent exhibition! It put Tolkien’s work in perspective, in the place where he had created the masterpieces: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and many others. There was a full body of his original artwork and manuscripts for each of the key books. Other works were represented, along with books in different languages and jacket covers but also; two interactive maps. There was so much more and it was a haven for anyone remotely interested in Fantasy (or even if you hate it! Which is blasphemy, of course) to see. I’m so glad I got to see it and mu found it really interesting and inspiring to see what Tolkien did and how he did it. I bought the mug!

The walk back was long, slow and hot. It seemed a lot longer than the walk into Oxford. Several stretches of the Oxford Canal here are designated Conservation areas, with no mooring. This meant that the urban aspect of the canal was very much muted back into the countryside.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Undergrowth image

All Hands to The Plough

Back at MIRRLESS we frosted the bathroom window and mu made a curry. Afterwards, although it would have been nice to find another pub, The Plough was so near and the beer and cider so nice that we decided to visit there again. After sitting outside for a while in the garden, we decided to retire inside so I could recharge my phone. No engine running means no inverter so no 240 Volt converted down to 5 volt access (or something like that). Thank heavens for pubs!

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - MIRRLESS Moored

Boat name of the day: Calcifer – from Howl’s Moving Castle I believe.

Footnote

Once we get MIRRLESS back, we want to get MiFi: a WiFi hotspot set up, a 12-volt fridge to replace the current 240-volt one. We have to keep running it whilst MIRRLESS’ engine is running, via the inverter, then turn it off when we stop. A marina hook-up would provide power but at a cost.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 14

The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 12
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10 
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1 

The Long Journey Home – Part 13

The Long Journey Home – Part 13

Sunday 17 June 2018

Awakened to the Sound of Rain

The Long Journey Home – Part 13 - Awakened to the Sound of Rain
The View From Here…

We awoke to the sound of light rain announcing its arrival on the Pigeon Box, above our heads in the bedroom. No, I hadn’t taken up pigeon fancying, not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a traditional Northern pastime. A Pigeon Box is the name for the raised box ‘skylight’ on the roof of a narrowboat. They are normally hinged and can be brightly painted.

Cast Adrift

This was a new experience as up until now, the weather had been perfect with no rain at all. As it was Sunday and we only had a short journey this day, we lay hoping it would stop so we could at some point set off. As I got up to make a cup of tea , a boat passed that seemed to be moving a little fast. The next thing we knew, the stern of the boat was across the canal!

The mooring had come loose. I had to edge along the starboard gunnel to get to the centre line, walk halfway back and throw out the line for mu to pull us back in to land. On inspecting the mooring pin, the loop was found to have snapped off! The ring sat on the stern of the boat with the rope. The mooring spike was still behind the metal siding of the canal bank. It may have been that I looped the rope through the ring only and didn’t pass it around the spike itself. I would have to try that in future. It must have been a combination of no flex and loop only (and old mooring spike) that cast us adrift. We were just glad it happened while we were aboard.

Thrupp

The rain had stopped by now so we set about planning the day’s trip: Thrupp and beyond.

The journey to Thrupp saw us saying goodbye to The Rock of Gibraltar, winding our way slowly past liveaboard boaters, on through a lock and on to the River Cherwell; our first river. There was an outfall of water from a large pipe from a cement works, hidden behind greenery that pushed us over to the wrong side as we passed under a railway bridge. It always amazes me how a small flow of water can shift a 19 ton metal hull! My newly found skills didn’t fail me however and we passed unscathed. This time. The Cherwell itself was a millpond by comparison.

Pull Up, Fill Up and Splash Out

At the end of the short river section, we passed through the lock, back onto the Oxford canal. Boat after boat seemed to be coming out of Thrupp but after several stops, groundings and re-attempts at moving forward to let them pass, we got to the Thrupp service area – a motorway service station of the canal. We could fill up with water from the water tap and empty our toilet at the Elsan point, not getting them mixed up. We had to wait; backwards, forwards, turn the engine off, turn the engine on. It was like treading water in a 19 ton swimming costume! Finally we got to pull up, fill up and splash out!

After the basics were completed we passed under a lift bridge, our first electronically-operated by key but only after lots of manoeuvring did we make it through. Once again, for the final time, we went to Annie’s Tearoom for tea, coffee and toasted teacake (after washing our hands). It was as good as ever.

On From Thrupp

The stop at Thrupp had been a lot longer one than anticipated but refuelled, we set off. We were back on the long journey home. The slow drive past boat upon boat in this popular area continued after a short break with Kiddlington.

The Long Journey Home – Part 13 - Awakened to the Sound of Rain - In a Lock

More moored boats. Travelling at such a slow speed lets you appreciate the environment you are in. You feel an affinity with the places you pass through. It is so unlike driving a car or travelling by train. Kiddlington was our first real urban part of a canal. After all the countryside with: fields, Flag Iris, Lilly pads and flowers, reeds, woodland and Elizabeth Lace, the urban views were a change. However, the canalside, even through built up areas keeps a degree of the aforementioned. You can still pass by much of the flora and fauna of canal life.

Toward Oxford

The Long Journey Home – Part 13 - Awakened to the Sound of Rain - MIRRLESS Moored Before a Lock

Oxford has set aside residential moorings under Agenda 21 and it is here that some of the more eccentric narrowboats can be found. There’s a wealth of character compared to the sterile hire boats that pass up and down the canal at this time of year. The patina of age should be embraced as the Japanese embrace Wabi Sabi.

Time was now passing on and we were looking for a mooring space. At a locked lift bridge we had trouble unlocking it with the key (you get a key which unlocks all the bridges and avoids people casually leaving them up). I was drifting into a moored boat and it didn’t take long for the owner to jump out, help push me away and then run around and help mu open the obstinate bridge. It was a known issue. A little further beyond, 48 hour moorings were to be found. They were mostly full but after a couple of tries, I managed to get MIRRLESS near enough to the overgrown bank (greenery of every kind is rampant at this time of year), get the centre line thrown out and pulled in to halt for the evening.

We had moored at Wolvercote. Here started several Inspector Morse references. The Wolvercote Tongue is one of my favourite Inspector Morse episodes.

The Plough

Looking out of the galley window, across a bridge and a field The Plough could be seen, beckoning. After the now well-versed mantra of: turn the water pump off, check we’ve got the keys, lock the stern doors outside (as well as inside) and put a makeshift curtain in place in the front window, we walked over bridge 32b to The Plough.

Greene King East Coat IPA (a nice refreshing, modern pint) and Lilley’s Cider for mu. As it was Father’s Day mu treated us to actual food: vegetable curry and vegetable chillie. You would have found me that evening reading The One Tree – The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson.

We went to sleep dreaming of leaving Isis Lock and moving out onto the Thames with all the trepidation that brings…

Boat name of the day: Gallifrey – Doctor Who: the planet where the Doctors come from.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 13

The Long Journey Home - Part 12
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10 
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1